Why Connor McDavid might not want to join this exclusive Conn Smythe Trophy club

NHL: Stanley Cup Final-Florida Panthers at Edmonton Oilers
Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Connor McDavid has had his fair share of winning hardware throughout his nine-season NHL career. The Edmonton Oilers captain has won the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP three times, the Art Ross Trophy winner as NHL scoring champion five times and the Ted Lindsay Award as League MVP voted by the players on four occasions.

McDavid could add one or two more important trophies to his collection this spring since the Oilers are playing in the Stanley Cup Final and their stud center is a top candidate for the Conn Smythe Trophy. Oh, how McDavid would love to win both the Conn Smythe and Stanley Cup this postseason, though the Oilers trail the Florida Panthers 3-1 in the best-of-7 Final.

The Conn Smythe Trophy has been awarded to the most valuable player in the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 1965. There have been 58 winners, several Hockey Hall of Famers winning the prestigious award twice, and Patrick Roy, the only skater ever to win it three times.

Winning the Conn Smythe Trophy is one of the highest honors a player can achieve in their career since the merits of recognition come over a brief but intense two-month period of hockey.

The playoff MVP doesn’t always come from the winning team. Five individuals have had remarkable postseason runs but came up short in the Stanley Cup Final. Thus far, four goalies and a forward have been recipients of the Conn Smythe despite not winning a championship that year.

McDavid would be proud to win the Conn Smythe, but less excited to join that group of five MVP winners who didn’t win the Stanley Cup that particular season. But if the Panthers win the Stanley Cup, there’s a decent chance McDavid could still win the Conn Smythe.

McDavid leads all skaters with 38 postseason points and already set an NHL record with 32 assists in a single playoffs season, breaking Wayne Gretzky’s mark of 31. If he registers two more points, he would become only the third skater in NHL history to record 40 points in a single postseason.

NHL: Stanley Cup Final-Florida Panthers at Edmonton Oilers
Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

The Panthers have plenty of worthy candidates of their own for playoff MVP, including Aleksander Barkov and Sergei Bobrovsky, if they win the Cup. However, after one of the most dominant postseasons in a generation, there’s a case for McDavid to be the first Conn Smythe Trophy winner from a losing team since 2003.

Related: Oilers, Panthers coaches ‘don’t believe in momentum at all’ before Game 5 of Cup Final

5 Conn Smythe Trophy winners from losing teams in Stanley Cup Final

Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Here are the five Conn Smythe Trophy winners from teams that lost the Stanley Cup Final.

Roger Crozier – Detroit Red Wings)- 1966

Roger Crozier debuted with the Detroit Red Wings in 1963-64, taking home the Calder Trophy as NHL rookie of the year in 1964-65. For a follow-up act, he guided the Red Wings to the Stanley Cup Final in 1966.

During Crozier’s run, he played a League-leading 12 postseason games, earning a 6-5 record with 26 goals against. He made 276 saves for a .914 save percentage and 2.34 goals-against average in 668 minutes.

After losing two of three games to start the playoffs, Crozier won five straight to end the semi-finals against the Chicago Blackhawks and earn a 2-0 series lead over the Montreal Canadiens in the Final. But that’s as close as Detroit would get to winning the Cup, losing the final four games. Montreal won another championship with its Game 6 victory.

Glenn Hall – St. Louis Blues – 1968

Glenn Hall is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, holding an unbreakable record by playing in 502 consecutive games. At the start of his career, he won the Calder Trophy with the Chicago Blackhawks and was a multi-time All-Star who finished seven times as a top-five Hart Trophy finalist.

He won the Vezina Trophy as top NHL goalie in 1963 and claimed a second Vezina win in 1967 before relocating from Chicago to the expansion St. Louis Blues in 1968. In their second season, he led the club to the Stanley Cup Final, where the Canadiens swept them in four games.

In 18 postseason games, he produced an 8-10 record with 45 goals against in 1,108 minutes. Hall made 490 saves, secured one shutout, and finished with a .916 save percentage and 2.50 GAA. He recorded three two-game win streaks in series victories against the Philadelphia Flyers and Minnesota North Stars.

Reggie Leach – Philadelphia Flyers – 1976

Reggie Leach debuted with the Boston Bruins and played with the California Golden Seals before landing with the Flyers in 1974-75. He was on the Flyers’ second championship winning team in 1975. In his first season, Leach scored 45 goals and followed that up with the first and only 60-goal season in Flyers history, finishing with 61 in 1975-76.

During the Flyers march to the Stanley Cup Final, trying to win a third consecutive championship, Leach set the NHL record for most goals in a single playoff run with 19. Since 1976, only Jari Kurri (Oilers, 1986) equaled the record, and Joe Sakic came next closest with 18 in 1996.

In the opening round, Leach had six goals and 11 points in a seven-game series against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Against his former team, the Bruins, in the second round, he potted nine goals in five games, including a franchise record five lamplighters in the 6-3 clincher. Even though the Flyers were swept in four games by the Canadiens, Leach still scored four goals to finish with 19 in just 16 playoff games.

Ron Hextall – Philadelphia Flyers – 1987

Ron Hextall was 22 years old in 1986-87 when he made his NHL debut with the Flyers. He would go on to win the Vezina Trophy by leading the League in games played, wins, saves, shots against, save percentage, and minutes played. Oh yeah, he led all goalies with 89 penalty minutes.

During the Flyers’ run to the Stanley Cup Final, Hextall played in 26 games, earning a 15-11 record despite Edmonton defeating Philadelphia in Game 7. to win the championship. Hextall had the most wins, losses, goals against, saves, shots against, shutouts, and minutes played while once again leading all netminders with 43 penalty minutes.

Overall, Hextall had six two-game win streaks, extending one streak to three to close out the New York Rangers in the first round ande getting an edge over the New York Islanders in the second round. He gave up more than four goals on two occasions, carrying the Flyers to within one game of the Stanley Cup title.

Jean-Sebastian Giguere – Mighty Ducks of Anaheim – 2003

Jean-Sebastian Giguere led the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim to the Stanley Cup Final in 2003, going head-to-head with future Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur in a series for the ages. Although Brodeur outplayed his Quebec counterpart and won a third ring, Giguere won the Conn Smythe Trophy with a playoff-leading .945 save percentage.

The Ducks swept the defending champion Red Wings in four games in one round, and Giguere surrendered just six goals and earned a .965 save percentage. He won the first six games of the playoffs and was tested more by the Dallas Stars in the second round, with 13 goals against and a .936 save percentage, including his first shutout of the postseason.

After all the success through 10 games, Giguere helped the Mighty Ducks sweep the Minnesota Wild in the Western Conference Final, backstopping three shutouts to start the series and giving up just a single goal in Game 4. He finished the series with a .992 save percentage, making 122 saves. In the Final, Giguere and the Ducks tried to stay competitive with Brodeur and the Devils, who collected three shutouts in four wins. Giguere’s impressive run ended in Game 7 with the Conn Smythe, finishing with a .910 save percentage in the series.

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